bad questions

Bad questions

One of our goals at this site is to get people to ask politicians smart, tough questions designed to hold those politicians accountable; see the question authority page for the full discussion.

The posts on this page contain examples of dumb or weak questions that politicians were asked, in order to provide examples of what not to do.

Last modified Jan 6, 2010
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

Student rants at Jeb Bush over Iraq, solves little or nothing (Ivy Ziedrich) - 05/14/15

The video below shows University of Nevada at Reno student Ivy Ziedrich ranting at Jeb Bush over the Iraq war. The confrontation has received notice from the New York Times (nytimes . com/politics/first-draft/2015/05/13/college-student-to-jeb-bush-your-brother-created-isis/), CNN, and others despite (or perhaps because of) it solving little or nothing.

Yet another ranting idiot helps John McCain with a weak townhall question (Arizona, Syria) - 10/23/13

If you just got here from another planet, you might think John McCain is the smartest man in the world. To come to that conclusion, all you'd have to do is watch a handful of McCain's townhall appearances where he always manages to turn the tables on those who confront him with rants or weak questions.

Reddit Ask Me Anything of Obama was OK, if you want to enable the corrupt establishment - 08/30/12

Remember the phrase "Question Authority"? What the site Reddit [1] did yesterday is the opposite of that.

Ted Cruz keeps saying the same things on immigration (attrition, amnesty) - 07/27/12

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, an ambassador visited an outpost for a few days, schmoozing with the locals. After he'd left, an official went to the leader of the outpost and said (paraphrasing), "we analyzed the ambassador's remarks, and he said absolutely nothing all the time he was here."

Republican debate January 19, 2012 (South Carolina, CNN, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Ron Paul) - 01/19/12

Brace yourself for yet one more worthless GOP debate. It starts today, January 19 at 9pm Eastern.

NETWORK: CNN

MODERATOR: John King.

WHERE: South Carolina

Juan Williams' dumb question for Mitt Romney (immigration, Mexico, booing) - 01/17/12

One of Fox News' favorite liberal lightweights, Juan Williams, asked the GOP presidential candidates a series of dumb questions at last night's Republican Party debate. Here's just one of them:

Dick Durbin refuses to answer bad Tea Party question; "reporters" run cover for Durbin - 08/12/11

The video below shows Sen. Dick Durbin refusing to answer a question at one of his press conferences, using the fact that the questioner is just a citizen journalist as the pretext. Meanwhile, the supposed real reporters run cover for Durbin, encouraging the citizen journalist to leave. Durbin asks the non-"real" journalist "would you please leave?", refuses to answer his question, and then is asked a setup question by a "real" reporter which he happily answers.

S.E. Cupp asks GOP candidates weak questions at Twitter "debate" (140Townhall, Rusty Humphries, Tea Party) - 07/20/11

Earlier today, SE Cupp moderated a Twitter-based tea parties "debate" with several GOP candidates for president [1]. She acted the role of the shill, asking them very weak questions and not doing a public service.

Glenn Reynolds, Ace support mindless, authoritarian heckling of Newt Gingrich - 05/17/11

The video below shows Newt Gingrich being confronted by an angry GOP voter in Iowa about Gingrich's recent comments about Paul Ryan. The voter presents no argument against anything Gingrich has ever said or done but instead just tells Gingrich: "You undercut [Ryan].... you're an embarrassment to our party...

Obama gets angry (in ineffective interview featuring weak questions) - 04/19/11

Barack Obama recently spoke with Brad Watson of WFAA in an interview (link, video below) that was sold by Matt Drudge and others as some sort of watershed moment ("FIRST TIME: REPORTER TURNS AGGRESSIVE WITH OBAMA" was his headline).

Certainly, almost all reporters have treated Obama extremely reverentially and from that perspective the interview is markedly different. However, the interview was basically worthless: it didn't hold Obama accountable and it didn't force him to answer the tough questions he's needed to be asked for years. I'm not surprised he'd get angry, but a politician getting angry is nothing; everyone can relate to someone getting angry. The interview is just entertainment, an Oprah/Springer moment.

I tried to ask Obama a question over four years ago, and it was much tougher than what's on the video below. And, for over four years, I've been promoting the question authority plan, encouraging people to go ask politicians tough questions. I've gotten almost zero help with that, and I've even gotten some opposition from commenters on sites like Protein Wisdom.

For an example of how worthless the interview was, consider this supposed question Watson asked:

"Was the shuttle not awarded to Houston because of politics?"

That's not a question, it's an allegation with a question mark at the end. When asking a question, one should be imagining how it's going to be answered and change the question to get a more preferred response. Unless the reporter's goal was simply to get an allegation out there, he did not do that. What would anyone expect Obama to say? "Yes, it was awarded because of politics"?

A better question would be something like, "Awarding the shuttle to Florida makes less sense than awarding it to Houston for [valid, documented reason]. Do you have a study showing that [valid, documented reason] is wrong?" If there's no such study, then find the rationale of whoever awarded the shuttle and try to find a hole in the rationale. Then, ask a specific question designed to force Obama into some sort of answer that exposes that it was awarded for invalid reasons (assuming it was).

Obama also denies being involved with the commission that made the shuttle decision. There are two possibilities: either that's true or false. If he wasn't involved, then why ask him the question? If he's lying about being involved, then ask specific questions designed to reveal that, such as pointing out who was on the commission and Obama's links to them (if any), pointing out who was not on the commission, and so on.

Please don't give in to Oprah/Springer-level entertainment: help promote the question authority plan.

Cecilia Munoz misleads about DREAM Act (White House "Open for Questions") - 11/30/10

The half-hour video below features Cecilia Munoz of the Barack Obama administration promoting the anti-American DREAM Act in an online chat yesterday. Some of the ways she misled viewers are discussed below.

Munoz was formerly with the National Council of La Raza and there's more about her at her name's link. Nowadays she's the "Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs" and in the chat she fielded a series of questions from her side and bad questions from those on the other side; all of the latter she was able to deflect with ease. Since the questions were pre-screened it probably would have been pointless to try to ask something she'd have trouble with, but readers are urged to go to public appearances by her and other administration officials and really press them on the downsides of the policies.

Near the beginning of the chat, she makes the ludicrous claim that "we don't see a downside to the DREAM Act." Munoz puts her ethnicity before the national interest, so she probably doesn't think that the many downsides of the bill - such as taking educations away from U.S. citizens - are that great.

Later she warns against "depriving ourseleves of the talents of these extraordinary people". First, the DREAM Act has no meaningful academic limits: it's not just limited to extraordinary students. Certainly, some of those who'd be covered by the bill have shown themselves quite adept at gaining publicity (aided by immigration lawyers and the media) , but that doesn't make them extraordinary.

And, by taking advantage of the talents of those who'd be covered by the DREAM Act, we'd be depriving their home countries of those talents. Munoz is supporting the further braindraining of Third World countries.

Then, she makes another ludicrous claim: "you can't make the argument that the DA will act as some sort of magnet for people to come here in the future". Of course, one can easily make that argument. The DREAM Act would send yet another message to potential illegal aliens that powerful forces inside the U.S. aren't serious about immigration enforcement. It will send the message that all they need to do is come here illegally with their children and, as long as there's a sympathetic administration and with enough pressure their kids will be eligible for an amnesty. Those who'll be covered by the DREAM Act will confer even more political power on the far-left and racial power groups, and those groups will push for "DREAM Act 2". And, since the DREAM Act only covers those who've been here for at least five years, there's already a new population of illegal alien students who'll follow in the footsteps of the current activists.

Continuing her deception, Munoz repeatedly uses the system is broken canard and around the 7:00 minute mark she engages in the deportations false choice. She follows that with another false choice, pretending that the only alternative to the DREAM Act is for illegal alien students to remain in the U.S. Another alternative - one that would be far better policy - would be to repatriate those covered by the DREAM Act. That way they can help build up their own countries, and at the same time they'll be kept from taking college educations away from U.S. citizens.

Then she says the following:

"As a member of the White House staff I can't ask anyone to reach out to Congress or to lobby the Congress, so I won't. But, I will say that there is a lot of misunderstanding out there about what the DREAM Act is about, and there are a lot of organizations that are engaged in telling the story of DREAM Act students. Because, when you're actually talking about specific individuals with names and histories and faces it's really hard to say some of the kind of ugly stuff that gets said about passing these kind of proposals."

Making up your own joke about the first sentence is left as an exercise. The more important point is that, rather than being willing to debate the huge and obvious downsides of her policy, she's promoting the use of propaganda designed to pull heart strings via PIIPP articles (see the link).

Then, when she's asked how the DREAM Act will be funded, all she can think of are processing costs. She fails to either understand or reveal the huge cost to Americans as some of them are unable to attend college, or the huge cost to Americans as some states decide to give in-state tuition to the illegal aliens covered by the DREAM Act. There are also huge hidden costs: braindraining countries like Mexico makes that country even more dysfunctional, and unless we're able to build a very tall wall completely across our southern border the last thing we want is for them to be even more dysfunctional.

Once again I urge everyone to organize efforts to go to public appearances by Munoz and other administration officials and really press them on the points above and on the DREAM Act page. A video of an administration official being discredited over this issue would have a very meaningful impact on not just this issue but politics in general.

The video is below and is also available at peekurl.com/vzqcpca

Can Meg Whitman answer questions on her own? And, does Chris Christie support open debate? - 09/23/10

The video at peekURL.com/vrdvsaj (or peekURL.com/vw65uvq ) shows New Jersey governor Chris Christie interrupting a heckler at a Meg Whitman event.

Melissa Bean's "thug" vs. teaparty libertarian idiot at public meeting - 08/16/10

Gateway Pundit offers "It Begins… Dem Congresswoman Brings In Street Thug at Town Hall Meeting to Threaten Constituents (Video)" (link).

Is Pete Stark concerned about eVerify keeping illegal aliens from being hired? (Steve Kemp, Golden Gate Minutemen) - 08/03/10

Steve Kemp of the "Golden Gate Minutemen" has been behind two smash Youtube hits featuring Rep. Pete Stark. The videos are at the tea parties level as far as stupidity (very high) and utility (very low) are concerned. They do, however, get Steve Kemp and his group a lot of attention, but then again that isn't going to reduce illegal immigration.

Pete Stark smears Minutemen; inept questioner just takes it, asks weak questions - 06/29/10

The video at peekURL.com/vmch8vb shows Rep. Pete Stark (from the East Bay in California) making various outrageous statements when asked by constituents about immigration issues. The initial questioner is from a Minuteman group, and Stark leads off by asking him "Who you gonna kill today?" The questioner then repeats back his question, and stumbles into his prepared, weak questioning.

Joe Biden asked "lower our taxes" at custard shop: why that's ineffective - 06/27/10

Joe Biden recently visited Kopps Custard in Greenfield, Wisconsin and got custard on his face! He asked the manager how much he owed him, and the manager replied "lower our taxes"; see that on the attached video, and note that Biden later called him a "smartass" (link).

Rep. Bob Etheridge grabs arm of College Republican asking dumb question (Breitbart) - 06/14/10

The video at peekURL.com/vcf8el2 shows a college student - presumably a College Republican - trying to engage Rep. Bob Etheridge (Democrat of North Carolina) in conversation on a Washington DC sidewalk. Rather than pausing to speak to him, Etheridge grabs his arm and then puts him in a horse collar, repeatedly asking, "who are you?" The video is currently linked by Drudge, and Glenn Reynolds [1] and Andrew Breitbart [2] [3] [4] among others are currently promoting it. Whether Breitbart was involved in making the video isn't clear, but it's in the Youtube account belonging to his associate Larry O'Connor [5].

Whether this was actually assault isn't clear since we can't see the full confrontation. The camera did get close into Etheridge's face, but at the same time it's doubtful that he could have considered a cookie cutter Ronald Reagan Jr. as a threat. Hopefully there will be some sort of investigation, because unless they're threatened, politicians shouldn't be grabbing people like yahoos.

But, there probably won't be an investigation of any kind, and the reason for that is because those involved have no intellectual power and aren't trying to get it:

1. This video is akin to paparazzi who try to get publicity for them being beaten up by a celebrity after they get into that celebrity's face. Whether the student wanted to provoke a response similar to what he got or whether he actually wanted to engage the Congressman in conversation isn't clear, but generally speaking we should be concentrating on discussing ideas rather than Congressmen Behaving Badly.

2. The "question" the student had is one of those bad questions: "Do you fully support the Obama agenda?" and it's on the same level as and uses the same "ambush" technique as the GOP has been doing for over a year. Actually, whether they're still doing videos like that isn't clear, because they never had an impact. While there's the possibility that the student was simply using the first question as an entree into really tough questioning, that possibility is incredibly slight. Those in that orbit seem incapable of coming up with tough questions but instead rely on repeating talking points or cheap stunts.

3. Just a few days ago, I continued my campaign to try to get Breitbart to raise the bar by asking truly tough questions, tweeting the following (starting here):

@andrewbreitbart: if you want to send a message the Obama admin can't ignore, help discredit Jim Wallis. He is/was fan of Karl Marx, plus... he's incredibly vulnerable to being discredited. Send a smart, experienced trial lawyer to one of his appearances to... "cross-examine" Wallis over http://24ahead.com/s/false-compassion Then, post the video of the exchange to your site.

Once again, I don't know whether Breitbart was involved with the making of the video, but what I suggested to him is the opposite of the video he's promoting. The type of questioner I'm suggesting isn't a wet-behind-the-ears College Republican but an experienced trial lawyer or similar. And, while ideally the questioning would take place at a designated Q&A session, if it had to take place on a sidewalk I'd hope that the experienced questioner wouldn't just shove a camera in the person's face. And, most importantly of all, the goal would be to discredit the ideas of Jim Wallis, and not to catch him behaving badly.

UPDATE: Etheridge has released an apology; it says in full (etheridge.house.gov/News/
DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=190412):

"I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse."

Glenn Reynolds promotes ineffective tirades against politicians (borderline harassment; alcohol) - 04/13/10

On Sunday, Barney Frank was flying from L.A. to Boston when two sisters on the flight - apparently ophthalmologists - tried to engage him in debate about Obama healthcare. When he declined, they began shouting at him, and apparently alcohol was involved (link). Per one of the passengers: "The women had been drinking, and they were crying and shouting... They were clearly the antagonizers, and Mr. Frank was kind of minding his own business."

So, how does tea parties promoter Glenn Reynolds respond? Does he suggest that drunken, mid-air tirades against politicians aren't effective and just coarsen what little debate we have in the U.S.? Does he point out that Frank is generally approachable ( peekURL.com/v2q7zlh ) and that there's a time and a place? Does he suggest that instead of shouting things at politicians they try to ask them tough questions such as outlined in my question authority page?

Of course not (pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/97529):

THIS SORT OF THING SHOULD HAPPEN MORE OFTEN: Barney Frank gets a high-altitude haranguing on health care. Two women ophthalmologists, whom Frank’s partner, Jim Ready, dismissed as “bitchy” — which really set them off. Frank got an earful. As far as I’m concerned, these guys shouldn’t be able to go anywhere without getting an earful. Luckily for Ready he’s the partner of a gay Democrat, because if he were a Republican that remark would have been sexist.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse chides me for encouraging discourtesy [note: link], but most commenters seem to disagree.

Many of Althouse's commenters are even less interested in what's the U.S.'s best interests than Reynolds, so take that with a grain of salt.

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz completely "p0wns" her Tea Party constituents (Obamacare) - 04/06/10

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz held a townhall about Obama healthcare yesterday and - as with all the other townhalls - the results weren't pretty. Instead of taking effective steps to discredit her, those present (at least on the videos below) asked weak questions that she handled with ease.

Jason Mattera smears Alan Grayson with stupid, misleading question (+Glenn Reynolds) - 03/26/10

Glenn Reynolds promotes (pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/96450) a new video from Jason Mattera in which the latter asks Rep. Alan Grayson about a seemingly shocking provision in the recently passed Obama healthcare bill: youtube.com/watch?v=SdBuvLXTv3c

Steve Grove asks Obama weak questions live on Youtube ("Your" Interview with the President) - 02/01/10

Earlier today, Steve Grove - Youtube's director of news and politics programming - interviewed Barack Obama live on Youtube (and on the White House's live feed) and asked him a series of weak questions that he answered with ease. Some or all of the questions he was asked were submitted by Youtube's visitors, very few of whom are familiar with specialized topics and with asking tough questions.

Obama devastates GOP "arguments" live on TV (House Republican retreat) - 01/30/10

Barack Obama appeared at a nationally-televised House Republican retreat in Baltimore yesterday at which several leading Republicans asked him questions which he then handled with ease. He "p0wned" them so badly that Fox News cut away from the coverage twenty minutes before it ended. What the House members asked were weak, open-ended question or simply requests. They weren't adversarial questions designed to reveal flaws in his policies or statements. Because of that, they allowed him to say things like this:

And the notion that I would somehow resist doing something that cost half as much but would produce twice as many jobs -- why would I resist that? I wouldn't. I mean, that's my point, is that -- I am not an ideologue. I'm not. It doesn't make sense if somebody could tell me, "You could do this cheaper and get increased results," that I wouldn't say, "Great." ...The problem is, I couldn't find credible economists who would back up the claims that you just made.

He also shined them on: "Here's what I'm going to do, Mike: What I'm going to do is I'm going to take a look at what you guys are proposing" and referenced those who say tea parties types of things: "But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot."

For your entertainment, the transcript is here, video is here and here, and see Marc Ambinder's take here and a Politico report here.

This incident shows a structural problem the GOP has: their leaders are great at cashing checks, but not so great at representing the interests of the American public. They aren't going to change, so if you want to oppose Obama in a smart and effective way you'll have to do it yourself. See the question authority page for a plan (note especially that the questioner has to be experienced), and here's our guide to asking politicians tough questions.

Regular citizens asking elites tough questions usually fails (HuffPost example) - 01/13/10

Eliot Spitzer has posted some questions for bankers, see that link for the details and the link. And, probably in an attempt at just ginning up page views, the Huffington Post has invited their readers to submit questions.

Feingold constituents falsely think they're holding him accountable, when they're helping him - 01/12/10

The video at peekURL.com/vle9byx (note: loud profanity) is entitled "Feingold Called Out" and features a recent townhall appearance by Sen. Russ Feingold. In fact, it's yet another example of failure by those in the tea parties sphere:

Why didn't Randall Terry "cross-examine" Sen. Casey about abortion? (disrupts event, has little impact instead) - 01/12/10

The video at peekURL.com/vyzf9ay shows pro-life activists affiliated with Randall Terry disrupting a speech by senator Bob Casey at an event unrelated to abortion issues. They shouted that he's a hypocrite and that he can't be trusted due to him allegedly supporting funding of abortions in other countries. Needless to say, Casey disagrees, trying to interrupt them and say they aren't telling the truth.

Example: how to make a question for a politician better (Obama healthcare) - 12/10/09

The page mentioned in the previous post (toptenhealthcarequestions.com) contains this question for Barack Obama:

The Administration has repeatedly claimed that its health care reform plan will not cover illegal aliens. The Congressional Research Service recently issued a report contradicting the Administration's position, stating "H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on non-citizens whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently participating in the Exchange." Is the Congressional Research Service in error? If so, where is the error?

The problem with that question - as with the other questions on their page and as with most of the other questions that people ask politicians - is that whoever wrote it didn't think through what would happen after it was asked.

In this case, they're asking Obama to comment on something he most likely hasn't read. All he would have to do is (probably truthfully) say that he hasn't read the CRS report, and then say that he'll look into it and reference other language preventing them from getting coverage and then seque into a stock speech. In other words, Obama would be able to easily deflect questions like that.

Now, compare that with the question in the second update here; the original post was in mid-August and the update was sometime around the end of August, meaning that either question could have been asked at one of the townhalls that were occurring at that time.

The question in the update at the last link was designed to box in the person being asked the question, asking them to commit to something that they could promise without having to do research (such as reading the CRS' report) first. That promise could then be held against them if they didn't follow through and could have been, for instance, used in their opponents' advertising. If they didn't follow through, follow-ups could have been asked of them at future townhalls.

In order to hold politicians accountable, you have to think ahead, and the tea parties have shown they aren't capable of that.

Tea party "patriots" to storm U.S. Senate, engage in sit-in just like far-left SDS used to do - 12/10/09

From "Tea Party Patriots to Storm Senate Offices" (taxdayteaparty.com/2009/12/tea-party-patriots-to-storm-senate-offices):

It is time, once again, to flex our muscle and exert that influence to hold the line in our fight against the government takeover of healthcare... On Tuesday, December 15 at 8:45 AM thousands of us will meet in Washington, DC at the fountain in Upper Senate Park. From there we will march to the Senate offices, go inside, and demonstrate our opposition to the government takeover of health care. We call this plan "Government Waiting Rooms". The intention is to go inside the Senate offices and hallways, and play out the role of patients waiting for treatment in government controlled medical facilities. As the day goes on some of us will pretend to die from our untreated illnesses and collapse on the floor. Many of us plan to stay there until they force us to leave. A backup location for this demonstration will be announced if they block us from entering the offices.

1. This is yet another cheap stunt from the tea parties, and - like most of their other stunts - it's ripped off from the far-left. Why exactly they think the only way to get their point across is by using the methods that groups like Students for a Democratic Society and ANSWER use is unknown, but it definitely has something to do with their general intellectual and emotional failings.
2. The idea that the tea partiers are patriots is a bit questionable due to their support for extremist ideologies such as libertarianism and objectivism and their support and involvement with those who support massive immigration such as Doug Hoffman and Freedomworks. The idea that they're the only true patriots in the U.S. - an idea that they frequently present - is beyond offensive.
3. As always, the smart effective way to do things is described in the question authority summary. Instead, all the "partiers" can come up with is one cheap stunt after the other.
4. The "partiers" do have questions (toptenhealthcarequestions.com) but they're incredibly weak questions that Obama could handle with ease and that would just give him yet another opportunity to segue into a stock speech. And, of course, the tea parties aren't using about the only ability they have - community organizing - to get people to go ask those questions. See this for a discussion of one of their questions; the criticism at that link applies to the others.

PJTV clueless about asking tough questions (CEI, Climategate) - 11/30/09

Glenn Reynolds alerts us (pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/89283) to the Pajamas Media video "Warmists Give Climategate The Cold Shoulder", subtitled "What do Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the

WeAreChange screams at Al Gore, helps him by portraying his opponents as insane - 11/30/09

A group from the Chicago branch of the We Are Change group - part of the "911 Truth movement" - showed up at a recent book signing by Al Gore, asked him weak questions, and then began screaming at him as they were hustled out of the store.

Canadian comedian tries to embarrass Sarah Palin; fails; shows abysmal level of debate in U.S. - 11/27/09

Mediaite offers "Canadian Comedian Fails Miserably In Trying To Embarrass Sarah Palin" (link):

During a book signing event in Columbus, Ohio, Canadian Comedian Mary Walsh ambushed (Sarah Palin) with camera crew and microphone to seek her thoughts on the Canadian health care system (and ostensibly embarrass her as well.)

While the event security detail prevented a meaningful interview, Palin did provide some basic comments consistent with her conservative position. While many websites are now presenting this video clip as evidence of her naivete, the video actually acquits Palin quite well, and makes the comedian look far more foolish than her target. Perhaps more stunning is that this clip has received a lot of play on numerous news sites, despite the fact it comes from a comedy show.

This is such low-hanging fruit that even Allahpundit of HotAir gets it mostly right (link).

However, neither of the above stress that this is yet another marker on the road to Idiocracy. Instead of asking political leaders tough questions about their policies - policies that affect hundreds of millions or billions of people - about all we get is one dumb stunt after the other.

There are a lot of forces working towards the current situation, including: entertainers want to get ratings no matter what; partisan hacks and authoritarians/borderline fascists don't want politicians to be asked questions at all; liberals who think the height of argumentation is asking questions in the style of the sleazy Mike Stark; and conservatives/libertarians who think the height of argumentation is throwing a tantrum in the tea parties style.

In case anyone else realizes how dangerous the path we're on is, help promote the question authority plan.

Lindsey Graham: GOP isn't going to be "party of angry white guys" (+more ineffective townhall ranting) - 10/13/09

From this:

An often clamorous crowd blasted, grilled and occasionally cheered Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a town hall meeting Monday that centered on health care reform but returned repeatedly to his positions on climate change, judicial appointees and immigration.

Graham returned the fire with a grin, at times shouting over his most boisterous critics and telling some who questioned his Christianity and party loyalty that their minority conservative views wouldn't succeed without the political coalitions he said are necessary to serve the majority of Americans and attract enough votes in Congress.

"If you don't like it, you can leave," he said...

...One man told Graham he had "betrayed" conservatism and made a "pact with the devil" by working with Democrats, and asked when Graham would switch parties.

Graham said he's not going anywhere and instead would grow the party, defending his conservative credentials on such issues as abortion and guns, and calling the view of Libertarians who believe President Bush was a war criminal "nuts."

"We're not going to be the party of angry white guys," Graham said to more shouts.

You can see videos of it at peekURL.com/vg48dmi peekURL.com/vacmnj1

There are a couple components of this story:
1. Some of the people doing the heckling were apparently libertarians who support Ron Paul. I only watched the first part of the videos above, but based on that and the story above, I'm going to guess that Graham completely "p0wned" those in attendance. Instead of asking him questions designed to make him look bad, they just ranted, chanted, and in general threw a rolling tantrum. In other words, they were not effective. They just acted out, and Graham won. If any of them had found a couple smart people and had had those smart people ask tough questions, Graham would have ended up looking bad.
2. Someone has to represent non-rich southern whites and other "angry white guys", and obviously it's not going to be Graham. They shouldn't vote for him and they should try to take effective steps to oppose him (once again: throwing tantrums isn't effective). For a video example of Graham's alternative to representing "angry white guys", see peekURL.com/vbqpzid Make sure and stick with that at least until he starts discussing uniforms, even if your skin has already begun crawling long before that point. There's an alternative between Graham's "vision", or just becoming the White Party (link), or just becoming the Pure Conservative Party. That would involve becoming an American alternative to the far-left over-reach of the Democrats when it comes to supporting illegal activity, globalism, and Gramscian concepts.

And, for your dose of stupidity, Allahpundit of HotAir links to the videos (hotair.com/archives/2009/10/13/
video-lindsey-graham-heckled-at-south-carolina-town-hall) and says "So why am I on his side? Watch the first clip and see for yourself who it is that’s heckling him and what they think about, oh, say, George Bush. I’ll take Grahamnesty over these tools [Ron Paul fans] any day of the week." That's a false choice, and - while it's not clear that he means "Grahamnesty" in the amnesty sense - I wouldn't be surprised if Allahpundit now supports or would support in the future amnesty.

And, for even more stupidity, Glenn Reynolds links to the HotAir page (pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/86703) and just says it's "not a surprise" that Graham would be heckled. Yes, it's not a surprise. But, that doesn't make it effective. Both Instapundit and Allahpundit are great with the cutesy quips, but not so great with the thinking.

Jim Geraghty, Glenn Reynolds promote anti-intellectualism (10/7/09 edition; Steve Israel townhall) - 10/07/09

Last night, Rep. Steve Israel of New York held a townhall meeting that per this consisted mainly of shouting and other anti-intellectual behavior. One question that was asked of him is provided at the link, and it isn't a good question.

Michael Chertoff grilled on CSPAN by sheer geniuses - 09/22/09

One of these days I'm going to get CSPAN and start calling in to their interview shows in an attempt to ask politicians questions that will make them look bad.

The tea parties aren't just for extremist libertarian Randroids. Oh, no. Of course not. - 09/06/09

The video at [SEE UPDATE] shows a tea party organizer from Seattle reading a Randroid rant she wrote complaining about redistribution in relation to Obama healthcare. She wants people to be left alone rather than some being "plundered" in order to fund UHC. At root, her argument isn't just with excessive redistribution, with pork, with connected contractors, with the social negatives of redistribution, with the Democrats using it to obtain and maintain power, or all the rest.

Demagogues get wish: Jim Moran townhall "descends into chaos" - 08/25/09

From this:

Rep. Jim Moran's town hall meeting descended into chaos Tuesday night as protestors clashed -- in one case violently -- with supporters of a broad federal health care expansion, leading the 8th District Democrat to angrily seek to evict some of the loudest demonstrators.

Moran and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean addressed a crowd of at least 2,500 at South Lakes High School in Reston, weathering hours of catcalls and heckling mixed with shouts from supporters.

Outside, a spillover crowd of protestors and counter-protesters shouted slogans at each other. A man in a Cato Institute T-shirt scuffled with a man wearing an Obama T-shirt, punched him in the face, and was shortly after kicked off the property by police officers.

OK, the last bit's funny. However, the stupidity exhibited by his opponents isn't funny at all. See the video here (unfortunately lacking the Cato v. Obama match) and the local MSM report here.

If, instead of acting like extras from Lord of the Flies they had found a few of their number who were smart and who were experienced with asking questions they could have tried to discredit Moran or Dean in an intellectual fashion. Moran is rumored to not exactly be a rocket scientist and, while Dean is obviously smart enough to be a doctor he's said some phenomenally stupid things and he could be "encouraged" to do it again if someone wound him up correctly. Both are extremely vulnerable to someone - such as a trial lawyer - who knows how to wind people up and ask them tough questions or get them to say self-incriminating things.

Instead of doing that, the tea parties types are cheapening already abysmal debate in the U.S. They aren't trying to undercut the MSM and politicians by asking tough questions. The fault for that lies with their incompetent and demogogic leaders. More on that here and in many other posts.

Note also the Glenn Reynolds post linked from here in which he said:

a reader suggests: "It would seem a great use of the tea party folks would be to become a living nightmare for jim moran who is leaving the welcome mat out for the uighurs - a thousand people at a district meeting would make an impact." I suppose they would.

Looks like Mr. "That crowd vented real good" got his wish.

UPDATE: Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake was at the event. Her description here, video here. The video has anti-abortion activist Randall Terry being ejected from the meeting. Rather than putting on the stunts described at the link, he could have actually done something effective and put Moran, Hamsher, and all their friends on the defensive. Those who want to defend cheap stunts and childish behavior don't seem to realize that by engaging in those, the protesters are helping or at least not hurting the other side. Instead of finding even just one smart person who could "interrogate" Moran, the protesters - and more importantly their incompetent leaders - are allowing Hamsher to write things like this:

You have to go to one of these events to realize how truly antagonistic and pig ignorant the death panel freaks are. While there are plenty of good reasons to object to the health care bills that both the House and the Senate are likely to pass, they don't appear to know any. Moran eventually took questions from the audience, and three--count 'em, three--people came up and asked if the insurance was going to be so good, why wouldn't he pledge to take it himself. Each time Moran said that he would. They appeared to all be hard of hearing, however, because they kept accusing him of not answering the question and asking it again, as if the word "yes" didn't have any meaning on their planet.

Citizen challenges President Obama to stay true to progressive principles! - 08/22/09

Welcome to the premiere edition of BYOSAK: "Build Your Own Soviet Allusion Kit". Your words today are velikiy (great, as in Peter) and grozniy (terrible, as in Ivan). Your goal: use those (or, alternatively, allusions to 1984) in relation to "Joe The Nerd: The Man Who Challenged Obama On Health Care" by Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/21/joe-the-nerd-the-man-who_n_265523.html) or the similar post from Greg Sargent [1].

During a super-tough interview with capitalist running dog and extreme reactionary rightist radio host Michael Smerconish, a regular Joe strongly challenged Leader Barack Obama with the following shocking question:

"Oh, I'm scared out of my mind talking to you here... I'm getting a little ticked off that it feels like the knees are buckling a little bit... We have overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate. And we own the whole shooting match. And I'm just getting...It's very frustrating to watch you try and compromise with these people who aren't willing to compromise with you."

Per Delaney, "it was the question of the week". Except, it's not really a question, it was from someone on Obama's side, Obama was (of course) able to "answer" it with ease, and one can only imagine the meltdown that would ensue at the HuffPost if Obama were finally "cross-examined" over his specific policies.

[1] theplumline.whorunsgov.com/president-obama/obama-supporter-confronts-president-your-knees-are-buckling

NRA member "Randy the Welder" unwittingly helps Obama at Montana townhall - 08/18/09

The video here from Obama's August 14 health care townhall in Montana shows a local welder taking around a minute to ask him a question. He first points out that he's a proud NRA member, then gives a shout-out to cable news (presumably Fox News), and then launches into an incredibly weak question. He basically wants to know how Obama is going to pay for all this stuff.

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